SAARC Research Seminar on Islamic Cultural Trails: Journey through Time and Space – Minarets and Mosques, Tombs, Trade, Tradition and Technology

SAARC Research Seminar, Research Grant and Publications
Islamic Cultural Trails: Journey through Time and Space – Minarets and Mosques, Tombs, Trade, Tradition and Technology


The Research Seminar on Islamic Cultural Trails is planned as a Regional forum of discussion for academics, researchers and policy makers to identify and develop the cultural, social, economic, religious, connections of the Region.  Islam is the only living religion to spread and take root in both east and west during the pre-Colonial era.  Islam disseminated from the land of its origin in the Middle East to South, Central and Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe.  Islam has enriched South Asia through its culture, transmitting art, architecture, technology, science through the trade routes.  The ancient trade routes have long been abandoned but the legacy of those who travelled these routes can be found in the circulated knowledge, ideas, religions and the diffusion of culture.  Islam is one of the shared cultural characteristics in the SAARC Region, with art and architecture portraying “unity within diversity” as seen in the evolving styles and the embracing of new characteristics through the ages.  This diversity was the result of interactions that took place along the trading routes criss-crossing East and West Asia, South and Central Asia, along with the exchange of merchandise, knowledge, concepts, designs, religions, technology and other sundry of objects and ideas.

The “Cultural Trails” portray the material culture (Tangible Cultural Heritage TCH) and the Intangible Culture (ICH) of our ancestors, their beliefs and ideologies, their life and culture.  The Islamic Cultural Trails (ICT) will be the third in a series of research fora aimed at strengthening cultural ties in the Region through a walk into the shared past of our ancestors, empowering us to work together as the custodians of a shared heritage for the future.  This will be an opportunity for the SAARC Member States to revive a dialogue addressing the issues of conserving and preserving the Cultural Trails on one hand and how we can utilize this space to understand of our past, to enhance our present and to be economically sustainable through tourism in the future.


  • To create a platform for research initiatives for Islamic Cultural Trails in South Asia for academics, researchers and scholars.
  • To promote South Asian Culture through research and other activities.
  • To contribute towards the preservation, conservation and protection of South Asia’s Cultural Heritage through the dissemination of research.
  • To identify intangible heritage associated with Islamic Cultural Trails and to preserve it for posterity.
  • To disseminate research on Cultural Trails to promote collaborative activities within the region and actively promote cooperation between line ministries in the region.


Themes for the Research Seminar
The following themes have been identified for the Research Seminar.  However, papers based on different themes will be accepted depending on their content and relevance to the Islamic Cultural Trails.

  1. Islamic Cultural Trails – (Refer to Annexure 1 for Details).
  2. Identification of New Sites and Locations along the Islamic Cultural Trails.
  3. Comparative Studies of Islamic sites (monuments, mosques, minarets, tombs, etc.,) in the Region.
  4. Comparative Research and interpretation of Landscape values of Islamic gardens.
  5. Travels of Islamic Pilgrims.
  6. Cultural Symbolism of Islam.
  7. Art and Architecture of ICT.
  8. Archaeology of ICT.
  9. Intangible Heritage of ICT (Music, dance, folk art, folk stories, traditional healing, handicrafts, etc.).
  10. Trade and Commerce of ICT.
  11. Manuscripts, texts and inscriptions, languages and scripts of Islam.
  12. Technology of ICT (Irrigation, engineering, agriculture, etc.)
  13. Cultural Diffusion of Islam.
  14. Heritage Management of ICT sites.
  15. Tourism promotion of ICT.

Dates and Venues
To be notified after confirmation from the Host Member State.


The Nominees for the Research Seminar may be selected from amongst diverse disciplines among Academics and Policy Makers.  Priority should be given to mid to senior level professionals involved in heritage management, policy makers and persons associated with the Heritage Sites in the Region.

Academics and Scholars should include but not limited to:

  • Archaeologists,
  • Art Historians,
  • Conservators,
  • Curators,
  • Museologists,
  • Anthropologists,
  • Sociologists,
  • Heritage Site Managers,
  • Persons working with national and local authorities with experience in the fields of Conservation, Preservation,
  • Tangible and Intangible Heritage Experts,
  • Ancient Trade and Technology Experts and
  • Managers, planners and staff of heritage sites.

Policy Makers should include Professionals but not limited to:

  • Ministries of Culture (Culture & Information, Cultural Affairs, etc.)
  • Ministries of Education (Education, Higher Education, etc.)
  • Ministries of Tourism (Tourism, Art and Culture, etc.)
  • Departments of Culture.
  • Departments of Archaeology, Archaeological Surveys, etc.
  • Departments of Museums.
  • Any other relevant Ministries, Departments, Organizations and Institutions.


Officially Nominated Paper Presenters from the Member States
The SAARC Cultural Centre invites all Member States to send a maximum of Five Official Nominations from experts and academics of their country.  The SCC hopes that at least one nominee would be from the Department of Archaeology of the Member State.

  • The SAARC Cultural Centre would provide the local hospitality (Hotel accommodations on full board basis) and the local transport to all Official Nominees of the SAARC Member States.
  • The Airfare of the Official Nominees of the SAARC Member States is to be borne by the respective Member State.
  • The Host Country can nominate a maximum of 15 Official Nominees.  All Official Nominees of the Host Member State will be invited to participate in the Cultural Tour and provided with the Seminar kit.  Official Nominees from the Host Country will be provided with accommodation if required depending on the availability of budget.
  • All Official Nominees must present a paper at the Seminar.

Other Paper Presenters

Category A – The SAARC Cultural Centre would also accept the participation of other Experts from the Member States (other than the Official Nominees of the respective SAARC Member States).

  • Applications should be sent through the respective Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Ministry of External Affairs to the SAARC Secretariat.
  • The selection of Other Participants (Category A) will be at the discretion of the SAARC Cultural Centre based on the availability of space and relevance of the abstract to the Seminar Themes.
  • Air Travel to be borne by the participant and SCC will provide accommodation, Seminar kit and the cultural tour.

Category B – Paper Presenters from the Host Country (Afghanistan) where the Seminar is held can participate.  (It is anticipated that Researchers, academics, etc., from the host city will present papers at the Seminar.)

  • Other Paper Presenters (Category B) from the Host country (Afghanistan) will not be provided with travel and accommodation.
  • Other Paper Presenters (Category B) will be provided with the Seminar Kit and meals during the seminar.

Other Information

  • Registration Forms of all participants (Official Nominees, Other Participants Category A and B) must be received through the respective Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Ministry of External Affairs of the Member State to the SAARC Secretariat.
  • The Language of the Seminar is English.  All abstracts and presentations must be in English.
  • The SAARC Cultural Centre reserves the right to select the Other Participants (in Category A and B) for the Seminar.
  • The Seminar facilities (delegate kit, tea, working lunch) as well as invitations to special events and the field trip would be extended to all paper presenters.

Nomination Process
The Official Nominees will be selected by each Member State comprising of leading academics, archaeologists and other experts from the Member State.  Official Nominations should be submitted to the SAARC Secretariat, with the Registration Form (Annexure 2) and the Format for the Submission of Country Papers / Abstracts (Annexure 3) attached (or downloaded from the SCC website) and the details requested below.

All Other Participants (Category A) from each Member State should forward their information (including the Annexure 2 & Annexure 3) through the respective Foreign Ministries to the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu.  An advance copy can be emailed to or

The last date for sending the Official Nominations / Other Participants is 30th May 2019.

All Participants should include:

  1. Full Name and Affiliation of the Person and other details requested in the Registration Form attached herewith.  (Registration Form – Annexure 2)
  2. Detailed CV of the participant.
  3. Scanned copy of Passport / Scanned copy of National Identification from the Paper Presenters of the Host Member State of Afghanistan.
  4. An Abstract (300 words) of the proposed paper.  The Abstract should be submitted in the Submission Form attached herewith.  (Format for the Submission of Abstracts – Annexure 3)
  5. The participants are requested to submit their full papers by 30th June 2019 and prepare a PowerPoint Presentation of 15 minutes maximum to be presented during the Research Seminar.

Format for Submission of Abstracts

The Format for the Submission Abstracts are attached as a separate document (Annexure 3).

Time Schedule for the Seminar Paper Submissions

Call for Papers     05th February 2019
Deadline for accepting Nominees & Participants     15th July 2019
Selection of Abstracts & informing participants   As soon as we receive the Abstracts through the Secretariat
Submission of full papers to be published before the seminar    30th July 2019

Seminar      28th to 29th August 2019
Cultural Tour    30th August 2019